Landscape as Witness - Field Trip: Day 20
I had previously been recommended to talk with a person from Noughaval, whose late-husband was known to have a lot of knowledge relating to the famine around the area. As well as this, it had been suggested that the church in Noughaval may have been built around this time. Upon seeing the projection elevation gain of the journey, I made the decision to travel there by foot. Although this increased the journey time by around an hour and a half it turned out to be the best decision that I made all day, as the steep inclines along the route would not have been worth the shorter 35-minute cycle.
A combination of the weather and the scenery made this walk thoroughly enjoyable, with the scenery changing dramatically every few kilometres. The steep inclines resulted in stunning viewpoints upon reaching the various summits, and with the abundance of green fields it was easy to forget that you were still in the Burren. However this changed as I got closer to the parish of Noughaval, where the familiar karst landscape returned once more.
Noughaval itself consists of a church and a handful of dwellings surrounding it. Before the famine, the hamlet of Noughaval was home to around 64 people, whereas now that number is closer to 10. I called into a local to ask for directions, and was pointed in the direction of a house just down the road. Unfortunately, the person I was hoping to talk to wasn't at home at the time, so I left a note with my number and an explanation of the sort of research that I was doing.
Before heading back to Carron, I had a look around the ruin of an old church adjacent to its modern-day equivalent. Although parts of the church seem to date back to medieval times, its graveyard is still in use to this day. I came across one tomb in which people were buried during the famine years. One man died in 1848, aged 98 years, whereas another died in 1849, aged 34 years. The rest of the gravestones were either too old to be distinguishable anymore, or too modern to belong to anyone who had died during the famine. I noticed plenty of familiar surnames, whose families have obviously been living in the area for many generations.
I began to head back towards the facility, not looking forward to the 2-hour walk quite as much as I had been on my way there. As I reached the halfway point, a car pulled up next to me and the driver leaned out to ask if I wanted a lift back to Carron. He just so happened to be one of the very first people that I had conversed with during my previous field trip, and had recognised me as I was walking down the road. He had also been the first person to recommend that I talk with Micky Vaughan, who had sadly passed away a few months ago. We were able to have a brief catch up on the drive to the village of Carron, from where I made the relatively short journey back to the facility.